Monday, March 20, 2017

Vloggers in Cambodia
Okay, more wasting time on the Internet.

Khmer440 (the forum for expats in Cambodia) has a whole thread dedicated to mocking Western Vloggers who come to Cambodia.

The tone of Khmer440 is sadly typical of the expat--backpacker dynamic. My experience of the expat community in Cambodia is that the long-term expats in Cambodia always look down with scorn on the fresh-eyed back-packers.  I always thought this was stupid.  Sure, back-packers can be naive about the new country, but we all start off naive.  No one arrives in the country an expert.  What do you expect?

Anyway, it strikes me that in my 4 years of living in Cambodia, I provided almost no pictures or videos on this blog to give people a taste of what life was like over there.  So if you want to see some of Cambodia, go over to the thread and watch some of the videos.

I'll be honest, I haven't watched them all myself.  But I did watch a couple.  Which I'll comment on below.

Harassment in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

This type of harassment on Sihanoukville is, unfortunately, very typical.  You just want to relax on the beach, and these kids sit down right next to you and will not leave you alone.  They just nag and nag and nag and try to wear you down by their persistence.   It made it impossible to enjoy the beach.
It was because of this experience that after one vacation on the main beach on Sihanoukville, I never went back to the main beach again.  There are, however, various smaller beaches you can go to where you don't get harassed, and we went to some of those on subsequent trips.

(NGOs recommend not to give money to the kids out on the beach, because it just encourages their parents to keep making their children work.  So I stubbornly refused to buy anything from these kids.  Which I think was the right thing to do, but it does result in a lot of confrontational arguing with these kids, because they do not take no for an answer.)

Changing perspectives, from a linguistic perspective, it is fascinating how well these kids pick up English just by harassing tourists.  These  are all poor kids with no formal schooling in English, and yet they pick up the language almost perfectly.  (You can hear that in some of the girls in this video, and I think there are even better examples of this that didn't get captured on this particular video.  When I was in Sihanoukville, I remember being harassed by Cambodian children who sounded like native-English speakers).
I used to contrast this with my students in Phnom Penh, many of whom came from rich families and spent a lot of money on English classes, and could barely speak the language.
To me, it just proves that Krashen was right all along.

Moving on to video number 2:
Living Your Dreams In Phnom Penh Cambodia

This is a great video of the riverside in Phnom Penh.
When I lived in Phnom Penh, this was about a 40 minute walk from my apartment.
I walked everywhere when I lived in Phnom Penh.  (Somewhat for health reasons, somewhat out of stubbornness--I refused to buy a motorbike).  And this would be on my regular walking excursions.
On my days off, this stretch was part of my regular exercise walks.
Other times, I came down to the riverside to socialize.  (There's a lot of bars and restaurants on the other side of the street, so we used to meet up).

Most of the commentary this guy says on this video is more or less accurate.  Although his major mistake is mis-identifying the Tonle Sap River as the Mekong River.
The Mekong River is actually on the other side of the Peninsula.  Right about where he starts the video is the place where the Mekong River and the Tonle Sap River come together, but then as he starts walking upstream, he is walking up the Mekong River.
(Fun fact: the Tonle Sap River is one of the only rivers in the world that reverses its current.  Normally it flows downstream into the Mekong River, but during rainy season the Mekong River starts overflowing, and forces the Tonle Sap River to flow the other way).

But he's not wrong about all the old white men hanging out with very young girls in Phnom Penh.  (It's not pretty, but sadly it's unavoidable.  It's everywhere in Phnom Penh).
He's also not wrong about there being a surprising amount of expats in Phnom Penh.  This was something that also surprised me when I first moved there.  After years of living in Japan, which had a very small expat community (proportionally) I was surprised at how big the expat community in Phnom Penh actually was.  It felt like the town was half expats.
And he's also not wrong about how the expats in Phnom Penh live a very comfortable lifestyle right alongside some very shocking poverty.
This was something that really bothered me during my first month in Phnom Penh, and then, for better or for worse, I just stopped noticing it after a while (as most long-term expats do.)

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